Learning to cherish our shared humanity
“My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours” - Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Becoming the Anglican Archbishop of South Africa elevated Desmond Tutu to a very powerful and influential position.
As men and women taking high office - whether in church, state or industry and commerce - soon discover their role brings with it an attendant swarm of sycophants.
Worse still a very real danger of becoming arrogant. Yet through years of campaigning against the iniquity of the apartheid regime and the struggle for peace and social justice, Archbishop Tutu knew that the fundamental bedrock of humanity is equality.
Not that everyone should earn the same amount of money or live in the same kind of houses but that everyone should have enough to live in peace and reasonable comfort without hunger or fear.
For, rich or poor, black or white, we are all part of the same human family. Mutual respect and care for each other should be a given.As Desmond Tutu said: “My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours.”
It is the fundamental tenet of the South African philosophy of Ubuntu which which champions our love, respect and understanding of each other.
Ubuntu, long practiced and preached by Desmond Tutu, has shown time and again that seemingly insurmountable problems can be overcome merely by listening to the point of view of others and, even if you’re convinced they are wrong, trying to understand them. It may not entirely resolve a problem but it can give you the space and knowledge to work towards a resolution.
It is a philosophy actively promoted the Tutu Foundation UK. In its work with Youth Futures and the Metropolitan Police, Ubuntu has been central to the TFUK’s remarkably successful attempts to find a way of reducing inner city crime, gang violence and drug dealing.
There were those who were understandably sceptical about the the chances of success when the Foundation set up a series of ‘roundtable’ talks bringing together police officers and gang members for one to one meetings. The skeptics were wrong. The two sides soon realised that they weren’t talking to the enemy but fellow human beings trying to survive in an unforgiving environment under challenging circumstances. It gave them pause for thought and room to develop a more healing relationship and all because they gradually came to realise that their humanity was inextricably bound up in the humanity of those they were talking to.